Tuesday, 1 October 2019
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Office of Public Works Projects
83. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the latest work of the Office of Public Works regarding its strategic review of the Phoenix Park; the cost to date; the estimated further cost in respect of the review; the expected timeline to publish a report on the consultation process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39447/19]
In 2018, the Office of Public Works commissioned a review of Visitor Experience in the Phoenix Park, with funding from Fáilte Ireland, in order to understand the current quality of experience for users of the Park and with a view to considering how visitor experience can be improved.
The Draft Review document sets out 29 distinct recommendations for the Park including the provision of new visitor reception facilities, more way marking, increased crossing points and a traffic calming plan. The Draft Review is not a framework for the development of the Park but it does explore the possibilities in relation to cafes, car parks and other visitor facilities with reference to international case studies in order to demonstrate the range of possibilities.
The draft review seeks to realise the Phoenix Park’s potential as one of the truly great parks of the world while also ensuring that the unique features that comprise the Phoenix Park will be conserved and protected for the enjoyment of generations to come.
The Office of Public Works placed the draft strategic review on public display on the 19thMarch, at the Phoenix Park Visitors Centre and invited the public and stakeholders to offer their observations on the various recommendations.
Members of the public were invited to submit their observations following a ten-week viewing period which closed on 31st May 2019.
The strategic review of the visitor experience at the Phoenix Park will cost €400,000. Failte Ireland is providing €300,000 to fund this project and OPW is contributing €100,000. To date, €318,951 has been expended on the project. It is expected that the remaining funds of €81,049 will be expended.
As stated, the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review was on display at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre from the 19th March 2019 and, due to public demand, the OPW facilitated two extensions on the closing date for submissions, first to April 26thand finally to 31st of May 2019. This resulted in a ten-week period in total for the public to consider the draft report and to submit observations for consideration.
One thousand, five hundred and forty six (1,546) observations were received via email to the Office of Public Works in respect of the Review. These were received from interested parties such as An Taisce, various local Residents Associations, ICOMOS, local elected representatives, Bird Watch Ireland, the Irish Wildlife Trust, to name some.
OPW together with its consultants, has carried out a detailed review and analysis of all submissions received. A report on the observations and submissions process is currently being finalised and it is envisaged that this will be completed by early to mid November.